Being away from family is never easy, but technology has been a great blessing for those of us trying to communicate with loved ones literally half-way around the world. Leading the list of inventions I'm grateful for in this area is Skype.
With my parents living in Australia, Skype has been the glue that allows us to have "face-to-face" conversations on a weekly basis. Most of the time we spend our time just catching up...the kind of talk we'd all like to have over a glass of wine and a plate of nachos. Due to the time difference, though, only one set of us ever gets to have wine at a time...the others are still starting their day with a cup of coffee. When we're not just chatting, Skype also lets my parents watch their granddaughter as she grows and develops in the time between their visits. She tries on clothes they send and pets the cat. Together they sing "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" and play "Peek-a-boo." These are the kind of moments that just couldn't happen over the phone...they're the kind of thing that is only possible when you realize that eye-contact can be achieved via web-cam.
Though they're much closer, my in-laws in Philadelphia also love Skype for the sneak-peek they get into Meredith's life--apparently the number one rule of grandparenting is "you can't see your grandchildren enough."